Right before we have the last breakfast here, a quick overview of the highlights. In general:
- There’s a boat-load of French here!
The foreign language I heard most often spoken (by members not from our group) was French. Might be due to an underexposure to Chinatown, but still.
- The toilets are broken!
There’s water in the loo. Standing. In Europe, this’d indicate a broken toilet. Here, all toilets are like that. I’m guessing plenty of New Yorkers find the European loos as quaint and unhygienic as their lavatories come across to us.
Before departure day
Waiting for Aga to finish packing. She just returned from a trip the day before (well, arrived at Lux Gare after midnight, so technically: this day), and still needed to pack and fix a gazillion other things. Some of which were of immediate importance. I checked the train schedules, but we were still pushing our luck a bit. The 17:00 train to Brussels was so much delayed, that that connection fell through. That left the 17:20 train with Thalys connection and the last option of the day… Hmmms.
The Thalys train is expensive — tickets for two were about twice as expensive as without Thalys. But, since we were running low on options, we still took that one. Thalys train was quite nice. And had WiFi (“Message sent from my iTrain” — that one never gets old :).
Hotel was… weird. Okay, but weird. Room was airtight, without airco. Heating was arranged via cooling the walls, which works, but isn’t quick. It was 24 degrees in our room… ouch? We turned down the heat and took a walk. Came back after 40 min, then it was 23… erms…
Luckily, with a bit of conniving, it all worked out.
“Show up 3hrs before departure”. Sure. Except that check-in isn’t open yet….. After re-fixing Anke’s visum (the fact that there are no (letter-)O’s in a passport number didn’t bother the visum request, just the boarding card …), we went to the plane and still had plenty of time. Aga opted out of the x-ray (which is probably smart, if you care about your health), and we went through. On the plane (which was quite small for a transatlantic flight — the smallest one I ever had for an intercontinental flight ;-), I watched the new Sherlock Holmes movie (entertaining), Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (fine if you like action, but shallow), and err… another movie whose name actually escapes me (Edit: it was New York Confidential, episode: the Bronx). Apparently, I’m for shallow entertainment.
Getting through customs went ok, and we were treated nicely, relatively speaking. Okay, so I am not a big fan of having my fingerprints taken.
We made our way to the hotel fairly easily, and then went out a bit. I forgot where, probably because I was enormously tired. I went back to the hotel, while Aga went for her one and only run around central park. I remember waking up at 2 in the morning, and wondering where she was, seeing the time, getting ready to call the police, and then noticing she was already there :)
Okay, next updates later!